Even spry seniors can find climbing in and out of the tub challenging. Heck, even younger people might struggle with it from time to time.
For those who are finding it a chore to get into the bath, or whose shower cubicle is too narrow or has too high a step, a walk-in shower is an ideal solution.
Walk-in showers typically have low entry thresholds (3” or less) so they’re easy to walk in and out of. And with some models custom-designed to fit you and your bathroom, they provide a comfortable way to wash up without putting yourself at risk.
Who Can Benefit From A Walk-In Shower?
Walk-in showers are good for any senior who’s finding their existing shower too awkward to step into, or who are struggling with getting in and out of a bathtub. Walk-in showers make life easier, and they come in plenty of stylish options that fit with your existing décor.
Seniors still need to step in and out of the shower, making walk-ins well suited to seniors who are still mobile enough to do so without trouble. If you’re opting for a version without a seat, it’s particularly important to be sure the person using the shower can stand comfortably. However, with so many folding and free-standing seats available, sometimes it’s best to add one anyway – just in case.
Lastly, walk-in showers are a less expensive alternative to walk-in tubs.
What Options Are Available for Walk-In Showers?
The exact features and design options you can choose from vary depending on which manufacturer you’re buying from. In general, though, you can choose from the different wall, base, door and faucet options. There’s an array of features out there, including everything from modern-looking stone finish enclosures to clever storage, and multi-function shower faucets.
Walk-in showers are designed to fit your existing bathroom, and come in different shapes and sizes, including round, square, rectangular, and even corner, and hexagonal options.
Some manufacturers have one core product that you can tweak and remodel as you please, while others design your shower from scratch.
What Features Should I Look For In My Walk-In Shower?
There are several different features available, depending on what you need. We recommend checking out:
- What safety features are like. At the very least, it’s a good idea to get a model with grab bars, to help steady seniors once they’re in. Other helpful safety options include anti-scald faucets, easy touch controls, non-slip bases, and shelves that double as places to lean (such as those offered by Kohler.)
- The step height. Most walk-in showers offer a step height of 3” or less – you want to be sure it’s easy enough to step over.
- What storage options there are. Adding storage to a shower enclosure maximizes the use of space in your bathroom, and also makes it easy to keep everything you need close at hand.
- Whether you can add a seat. A seat is a great addition for any senior, giving them a place to rest if they need to. Some models come with fold-down seats or seats built into the base, while others offer free-standing models.
- Your choice of faucet and control options. Some places give you the choice of different sizes and types of faucet so you can customize your shower experience to your liking.
- The design options. Check out the manufacturers’ design choices. What finishes can you get on the walls? What kind of door and screen options are there? How about the metal finishes?
- What kind of warranty you get. A walk-in shower is an investment, so you want to be sure you’re covered in case something goes wrong.
How Do I Decide On My Walk-In Shower?
Both Safe Step and Kohler (featured below) will send out a technician to carry out a no-obligation assessment and make recommendations for you. They’ll also give you a free quote letting you know how much your ideal shower will cost.
What About Installation?
As an example, Safe Step and Kohler both include professional installation in their quotes. American Standard sells the components but not installation, so you’ll need to arrange for a professional plumber to install it for you (unless you’re very good at DIY.)
Best Walk-In Showers
Here are three walk-in shower manufacturers to consider.
Kohler’s unique LuxStone walk-in showers provide a range of comfort and safety features, all in a modern, welcoming style that can be tweaked to suit any home.
Models: Kohler designs each shower for you based on your individual needs and style preferences.
Safety features: You can add a free-standing seat and grab bars to any of Kohler’s showers. If you’d prefer a more fixed seating option, the Tresham model comes with an integral seat. The showers also feature a low threshold.
Other features: If you don’t need grab bars, you might like Kohler’s Barre shelves, which double as flat storage shelves and places to lean.
Quotes: Kohler will send one of their experts to your home for a free assessment and a free no-obligation quote. Their price promise means you won’t be charged more than your quote, and the quotes include installation.
Installation: Kohler’s engineers can have your old shower or tub removed and your new one fitted in as little as one day.
Warranty: All models feature a limited lifetime warranty that covers both the shower and the labor.
Cost: Get in touch with Kohler for a personalized quote.
Anything else: All grab-bars are ADA-compliant, for added stability.
Our verdict: We appreciate the price promise and the choice of finishes and features.
American Standard doesn’t offer custom-designed showers. Instead, you can browse their site and find the component parts (base, walls, doors, and faucets) that suit you best.
Models: American Standard offers a wide range of models from basic shower trays to integrated seats, and from simple faucets to multi-function rainfall style showerheads.
Safety features: You’ll find anti-scald faucets on some models, and others have grab bars. You can also choose a base with a seat already built-in.
Other features: We found several models with non-slip bases, and a good range of shower faucet features such as easy-grasp lever controls, low flow, and massage sprays.
Quotes: You can search by price, or within a certain price range to see what’s available within your budget.
Installation: American Standard showers aren’t complete units, and installation isn’t included. Instead, you’ll need to hire a plumber to fit it for you. You might like to talk to a plumber and get an assessment of your home first, so they can advise you on the best choices for you.
Warranty: Five-year limited warranty on most items.
Cost: Cost varies between items. In general, though, you can expect to pay around $2000 for the shower base, $700 for the walls, $2000 for a glass door, and $150 for a faucet.
Anything else: American Standard’s site lets you search specifically for ADA-compliant items.
Our verdict: Not quite as many features as a customized shower, but there’s a good range of floors, walls, and faucets on display.
Safe Step is already known for their walk-in tubs, and they also offer a walk-in shower with a range of great features. Safe Step showers are designed to fit perfectly into your existing bathroom.
Models: Safe Step offers a choice of a walk-in shower and a walk-in tub with rainfall showerhead. Both can be customized to fit your preferences.
Safety features: Safe Step offers a range of features, including anti-slip bases, an anti-scald valve on the shower faucet, a one-touch on/off shower wand and easy to reach controls.
Other features: All models include shower caddies for storage, and you can upgrade from a shower curtain to a modern glass shower screen.
Quotes: Safe Step can send a technician to assess your home, talk to you about your needs, and provide a free no-obligation quote.
Installation: Safe Step’s complete installation covers everything from clearing your bathroom to tidying everything up afterward. Many installations can be completed in one day.
Warranty: Your shower, parts, and labor are all covered by a lifetime warranty.
Cost: Get in touch for a free no-obligation quote.
Anything else: Safe Step offers a range of seats – choose from a fold-down seat, a heavier duty padded fold-down chair or an integral seat in the base.
Our verdict: We really like the range of accessories and options offered by Safe Step, and the lifetime warranty is also a plus.
Buying direct might cost a little less, but by the time you factor in plumbing costs and the hassle of hiring your own plumber, the savings might not be that big.
A walk-in shower makes bathtime much easier and more enjoyable for seniors than a standard bathtub. Add in some safety and comfort features such as a seat, anti-scald faucets, grab bars and storage and you can create a safer, more welcoming bathroom.